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Jacqueline Cleary
CEO, Atlas

“Hold a high standard for yourself, your business, and your employees. Work with integrity and you will find it is the easiest way to gain the respect of your employees and your clients.”

About Atlas

Atlas is a WBENC-Certified woman-owned business specializing in Program Delivery and Project Management Organization (PMO) Consulting Services, Managed Services, and Workforce Solutions. Atlas partners with major corporations to understand business challenges and through strong collaboration and a holistic approach, delivers customized solutions ranging from a single resource to a core team of project managers and PMO specialist. Atlas’ mission is to deliver the capability to enhance team dynamics in virtually any environment, allowing our clients to hone in on their competitive edge. Our commitment to success, along with our innovative approach and tailored solutionsmakes us the superior choice for any PMO group.

Headquartered: Berkeley Heights, NJ

Founded: 1998

Company Website:

When and how did you start your business?

It all began when two of my friends and I would meet on Friday nights for dinner to dream about the company we would start. Over the next three years, those friends transformed into my partners, and the Friday nights spent fantasizing turned into long hours of planning and developing a business model. We opened the doors to Atlas and off we went. Twenty years later, I credit this to hard work, determination and my big appetite for risk! 

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

Being a WBENC-Certified WBE has aided Atlas in getting a foot in the door with our Fortune 500 clients. As we know, supplier diversity is a top priority for large corporations and leveraging your certification to at least start a conversation can lead to decades long relationships as it has for Atlas. We are proud of our certification and all Atlas employees use it to their advantage in sales, recruiting, and operations.

What are some of the biggest challenges and barriers you’ve faced as a woman business owner? How have you overcome them?

One of our biggest challenges is competing with much larger firms because clients are often concerned about our ability to scale. We typically start out with a small project and prove ourselves. That’s when requests for more engagements start flowing in. Convincing large corporations that small businesses like mine are equipped to support them can be difficult. With every engagement, we form strong partnerships and prove that we can grow, scale and adapt because of our dedication and commitment to success and customer service. 

What is your proudest moment thus far in business?

Celebrating our 20 year anniversary this summer and looking out at the committed employees who made it possible. In that crowd was also a group of interns, and I am so pleased to be in a position where my company can give back to the community by molding the minds of our future workforce.

What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?

Hold a high standard for yourself, your business, and your employees. Work with integrity and you will find it is the easiest way to gain the respect of your employees and your clients.

How did you first learn about WBENC Certification?

Atlas was trying to partner with Bristol-Myers Squibb without much success and a member of the supplier diversity team recommended certification as a way to get an initial meeting. Not only did the certification help with that specific client, but 14 years later, our certification has served us well, helping us build a strong relationship by adding an extra benefit for our clients.

Have you partnered with other WBENC-Certified WBEs on contracts or utilized other WBEs as suppliers? If so, what has been the benefit? Why do you feel it is important to work with other WBEs in the WBENC network?

As the 2014 winner of the WBE Star Award, I have always been committed to the success of my fellow WBEs. It is in my DNA and in my company’s DNA to support diversity in the work place and to help other women and minority-owned businesses succeed. Atlas always turns to other WBEs as partners and suppliers, not only to help build and support our community, but also because we know we’ll get the same attention and dedication that we give to our clients.

What tips do you have for WBEs to get the most out of their time at the National Conference & Business Fair?

Be on your game at all times and be very present at the conference. The next contact you make or conversation you have might be your ticket into something big. Utilize the fun events as an opportunity to nurture the relationships you are making throughout the Business Fair and workshops, and keep coming back! You’ll see acquaintances turn into trusted partnerships, and sometimes lifelong friendships.  

What should a every first-time attendee know about the conference before they arrive?

They need to set their expectations properly. It’s a slow, multi-pronged process that requires patience and perseverance. The likelihood of getting a contract at the first event is low. If you stick to it and continue to work the conferences, you’ll see a huge benefit as the relationships you make mature. Those relationships are what will get you the contract.